Travelling with Tots {Part 1: The Road Trip}

Being that Easter weekend is coming faster than I can grasp, I’m hoping to get this post out in enough time to be helpful to those of you headed off to see family and friends.

Have you had the opportunity to travel with your children?  Or does the thought quite honestly terrify you?

Because the majority of our family is 4+ hours away, we travel quite a lot.  And because my husband works a ridiculous amount, I do most of the driving by myself.  And you know what?  It actually goes pretty well!  There was a time when we had 3 little ones under the age of 4 so if I can do it, you can too!

Read on, my friends, and I will try to make your family adventures as painless as possible…

Tip #1:  Start Them Early {And Do It Often}

Starting them early was probably the biggest favour I could have done myself.  Now, I’m not saying you should take your wee ones on a full-out Canadian tour.  You know that family reunion you’ve been considering?  Go.  That friend who moved away and you’ve been nervous to make that 3 hour drive to see?  Do it.  Hit the pavement as often as time and budget allows.

Tip #2:  Feed Them.  {A Lot}

A hungry child is a grumpy child.  Let’s not let that happen.  Make up snack baggies (cheerios, dried fruit, m&m’s, etc.).  Bring water or juice in spill-proof cups {and a large bottle of water for refills on those long trips}.  Stash granola bars in your glove box.  Not only does it keep their bellies happy, it keeps them occupied and fends off the inevitable are-we-there-yets a wee bit longer.  If you have an infant, plan to stop and nurse or plot out before-hand where you could warm a bottle if you need to.

We often plan our trips so that we can stop for lunch or supper in the middle.  We usually do fast food but you could also brown-bag it and stop at a park (weather permitting, of course) to let your little ones burn off some steam at the same time.

Tip #3:  Keep Them Occupied.

I always have a pile of baby toys that I can pass back to our youngest if she starts to get fidgety.  For the big girls, a portable DVD player is a life-saver.  Seriously.  You can get them for a pretty decent price these days and it will save your sanity.  {A digital movie downloaded onto your iPhone works great too, if you trust that your child won’t mangle it!}

For older children, Michael’s sells lap desks with side pockets to store their goodies.  You could easily throw in crayons, a colouring book, reading books, etc.  And they work great for eating on too!

We always let them bring their favourite blanky/stuffed animal in their seat as well.  That way there’s no freak-out when their eyes are starting to droop and they need their blanky to fall asleep!

For longer road trips, buy small toys and treats from the dollar store and wrap them in tissue paper.  When everyone starts to get fed up with the drive, bust out a present!  It doesn’t cost much and will keep them distracted long enough to get a few more miles under your belt.

Tip #4:  Prepare To Stop When Necessary.

There have been times when I’ve been so focussed on getting to our final destination that by the time we got there my children were about ready to disown me.  I don’t recommend this.  Mentally prepare yourself before-hand to stop when you need to.  When things start to get hairy, sometimes all it takes is a 5 minute stop for everyone to stretch their legs and regroup and you can actually enjoy the rest of the drive.

And likely, your children will have to pee at some point.  For some reason our girls have bladders of steel and we are often able to make a 4-hour trip without stops (and they still love me when we get there).  This will not work for everyone!

Tip #5:  Keep The Necessities Handy.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done side-of-the-road diaper changes {and by side-of-the-road I mean pulling onto a side road or rest stop ~ be safe!}.  We’ve used the tailgate, console, seat and even our laps when we had to.  Sometimes you just can’t wait for a change table.  If you  have little ones in diapers, make sure you have a change pad, lots of wipes, diapers and at least a couple of clean outfits.  “Blow-outs” will happen when you least expect them!  It’s also a good idea to have a change of clothes for your older children handy, just in case.  Kleenex is a necessity too ~ call us redneck but we’ve had side-of-the-road emergencies where are older ones couldn’t wait for a bathroom!

Tip #6:  Keep Them Comfortable.

I always dress our girls in comfy clothes when we’ll be on the road.  Jammies or yoga/sweat pants and t-shirts work great.  That little jean dress might look super cute for your baby but with being strapped into the car set for however many hours, it’s not a good idea.  She’ll look just as cute in a sleeper {and it’ll be easier to change her too!}.  😉  In the winter we dress them in lighter coats and keep their winter gear in the back.  They take their shoes off basically as soon as they get in the vehicle.  How can they complain…jammies, snacks and a movie?!  They’re golden!

Tip #7:  Enjoy The Journey.

If there’s one tip I’m guilty of forgetting, it’s this one.  As they say, it’s not about the final destination but enjoying the journey (or something like that).  So do it!  Soak in the scenery.  Stop and smell the roses.  Don’t let the beauty of your surroundings pass you by.  You will be glad you did.  And your kids will be too.

DSC01663
Our oldest at about 2 months, getting ready to go on an adventure!

Well, as we are about to hit the road ourselves, I had better sign off (okay, today it’s only a 20 minute drive but whatever).  Stay tuned for Part 2!  Happy Easter and save travels to you all!

Do you have any road trip travel tips?  Please share!

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2 thoughts on “Travelling with Tots {Part 1: The Road Trip}

  1. Great post!! And all great advice and proven by both of us 😉 I’ve always been an advocate of not letting the fact that I have children stop me from doing things like this!! They love it just as much as I do 🙂 and yes, expect the comments and looks from others that think you’re crazy for driving 13 hours with a 2 yr old and 2 month old… But who cares, we all survived and had fun and have many great pictures to prove it 🙂

    1. We didn’t travel much as kids so our lives are much different than mine growing up! I often say, “If I waited for my husband to go everywhere with me, I’d never leave the house!” Haha He is with us on our big adventures though, which is aweosme. I am glad we are a flexible family ~ we enjoy our adventures too!

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